Clickety Clack from 1995 Subaru Legacy


Asked by Dec 22, 2015 at 12:27 PM about the 1995 Subaru Legacy 4 Dr LS AWD Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

10k miles ago, at 160k miles on my Subie, I had the timing belt, water pump and head gasket replaced.  A couple months back I started getting some oil burn smell so took her in and they replaced the leaky valve cover gasket.  Now, about 500 miles later, she's a clickety clacking away, which was normal for oil change time, but this is clean oil!  It does NOT go away with warm up and it does fade in and out with no rhyme or reason I can see.  My fear is that the valve cover gasket had never been changed out and some debris from its disintegrating state is now cycling through the motor.  I don't know if this is possible though, can you all help?  Much thanks for any input!

13 Answers


May just need the rocker arms adjusted, lot of miles if it has not ben done.

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If in the past "clickety clacking...was normal for oil change time" then it sounds like this motor had run very low on oil in the past. Thus I suspect you're hearing rod bearing wear noise. Just run it, as sometimes they won't let go if run of a full bath of clean oil. But it could just blow a rod through the block on the highway too...which is the most common form of failure. 20 years is enough, eh?

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A knock is a rod, a clack is the lifers & rocker arms.


Sure, but with Subies an untrained ear has difficulty discriminating...or even applying appropriate them. Sometimes it's helpful to use geometry to assist: RM: when warm and idling, open hood and stand directly over center of motor. Play with the throttle to hear the noise. Does it seem to come from an OUTER sidd of the motor (valve-related), or more from just off-center nearer the center of the motor (rod- related)? Wait until the motor's fully warmed up so that cold- running piston slap isn't clouding the diagnosis.

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Take it in for an opinion of what it is, it may just be an adjustment. No sense calling it toast at this point. Then trade it in or sell it.

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I'm gonna go out later, (in the rain!) and change the oil and I'll give a good listen as to where the sound is coming from. I can't tell if it's from a lifter or a piston either... I will look at my manual as well to try and narrow it down, thanks for the suggestions, you are all awesome!


Changed the oil, added a quart of Lucas and no change. the sound is coming from the middle right when I'M facing the it is more of a tap tap tap, of course gets faster when I opened the throttle...grrr...I love my old Subaru's and am reluctant to get rid of her, but oh my, I've put a lot of money into her the past 2 years and i know she had it in her to go for another 100k, but being a full time single mom, WITHOUT a shop or garage, she's getting mighty expensive... I love Subies, but wish the head gasket problem wouldn't been on re-call. I only want 95 and older, but maybe things have changed since my last research 5 years ago when I bought her...?


Subaru's should not normally need a valve lash adjustment at 160k. Mine at 200k is just fine. That you car makes noise when it is time to change the oil is not normal. Either you are letting it get low on oil or the engine is very worn.


Lucas et al thickeners are NOT recommended for these motors unless you've errantly put in 0 or 5w or synthetic oils and need to balance the viscosity. But if you're above 10F I wouldn't worry about it. It DOES sound like you're describing a light-to-moderate rod-rap. again, it may stay on this plateau for months or years...or let go anytime. Just keep the revs below 3500rpm and say lots of non- denominational prayers! Happy Holidays. ern

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If you buy another Subaru get one that is at least 2003 or newer as they made some improvements on head gaskets. If I were buying another used Subaru, I would look for one around 2007 to 2009. Newer ones may have oil consumption issues.

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Get an experienced mechanic that you trust to listen to the engine. There should be no charge for that. You don't want to throw a rod if that is what is getting noisy.

1 people found this helpful.

FoR, I agree with you on the valve lash...they're quite stable. But 80% of the used '07-'09 2.5i Subies I check out weekly have bleeding HGs. It's time and stress-related, and seemingly mileage independent. 80% of the bleeders are left head coolant, the balance right head oil. How Fuji Heavy Industries (now Toyburu?) avoids a total recall is beyond me....

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Drove her to town and she's considerably more quiet...and I did put 5w oil in!! hehehe I'm gonna have the mechanic take a listen still, but at least she quieted down and I feel like I bought some time... Thanks fellers, you're all awesome (and I do pray for my car often, really every time I'm in it and she's never ever ever left me stranded!!)

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